"It was all very difficult…" It's not surprising that it is as wonderful to sit down and talk with the people from Studio Ghibli as it is to watch the wonderful movies they make. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to interview Hayao Miyazaki prior to his retirement during a trip over to the US to promote Ponyo. While up in Toronto at TIFF 2014 this year, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet up with and interview Isao Takahata, the director of the beautiful film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which was released in Japan last year and arrives in US theaters this fall. He was wonderful to speak with, making my entire trip worth it.
Meet Xavier Dolan from Quebec, Canada. He's currently 25 years old with five films under his belt, four of them premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. I've been following Xavier closely since catching Heartbeats, his second film, at Cannes back in 2010. At Cannes this year he premiered Mommy, an exhilarating story of a mother and her troubled son and the relationship they strike up with their neighbor (watch the trailer that we're quoted in here). I loved the film, one of my favorites this year, and have been looking forward to meeting Xavier. What would he be like in person? Could I get honest answers out of him? (The answer: yes.) He lets loose in this two-part 20 min chat about making movies, his cinematic style, and career as an actor.
"You need to experience the dynamite… to know that the dynamite can go off." Just last week we featured Starred Up as our latest Monthly Must See, an intense, brutal but incredible prison movie from English director David Mackenzie starring Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn. You may not recognize the name at first, but you should certainly recognize his films - David Mackenzie's filmography includes Young Adam, Asylum, Hallam Foe (or Mister Foe in the US), Spread with Ashton Kutcher, the sci-fi Perfect Sense and the music film Tonight You're Mine, all before he went on to make Starred Up. Last week I sat down for a chat with David on the realism of the film and finding actor Jack O'Connell, who plays inmate Eric Love.
"It's the essence of flirting." So how do you refresh and revitalize the romantic comedy genre? That's what I was hoping to find out from Canadian director Michael Dowse, the man behind the excellent film What If. I first saw this film at last year's TIFF 2013, and loved it, ranking it as one of my 5 favorite films of that festival. It was known as The F Word back then (and still is in Canada) but was retitled to What If for its US release, which is something I had to ask him about. What If stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as a young couple perfect for each other–their chemistry was a topic, too. View the full video interview below.
"F*!k the system." Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has been one of my favorite filmmakers since the very early days of FirstShowing. I fought hard to secure an interview with him four years ago during the release of his fourth film Mother, and had a wonderful time talking in person in Los Angeles. At the end of our interview we discussed plans for his next project, Snowpiercer, a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic adaptation of a graphic novel set entirely on a train. Now, four years later, here we are again and Snowpiercer has finally arrived. I met up with Bong Joon-ho again in New York City this time, as he's touring the US to promote the release, and we chatted about crafting this sci-fi masterpiece. It's a fun discussion, focused on the film itself.
"It feels important to me that the specificity of the world be known." At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, one of my most anticipated films was David Michôd's The Rover, his follow-up to the Sundance 2010 breakout Australian film Animal Kingdom, one of my favorites that year which lead me to first interview him back in 2010. He's back and it was time to talk about his second film and what lead him to this one, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Excerpt: "I've always wanted to be a part of the big world of of it, it just felt so important to me the second [film], that I controlled it, that I consolidated something rather than making one movie, and people getting excited, and me just losing control of my career." Watch in full below.
It's been just four months since we lost the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman. Even as I look back at the tribute that poured from my mind after his death, it's difficult to believe that he's still gone. The man was my favorite actor and at least once a week I'm reminded of one of his films, and immediately become filled with momentary sadness because of his eternal absence. But he lives on in the movies we loved, and now we get the chance to dive deeper into the mind of the great actor in an interview that is heartbreaking in hindsight. PBS Digital Studio's "Blank on Blank" just released a previously unaired, animated interview segment with Hoffman where he talks about happiness in his life. It's kind of difficult to sit through. Watch!
"Hey, bub, I'm not finished with you yet." Academy Award-nominated actor Hugh Jackman has played so many unique roles for many different directors, from my all-time favorites including Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky, to many others. This weekend he appears for his seventh time as Wolverine, aka Logan, in X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed again by Bryan Singer who first started it all with X-Men back in 2000. I was incredibly lucky to have a chance to sit down with Mr. Jackman for a 15-minute one-on-one chat about everything from The Fountain to Wolvie creator Len Wein to the lessons he's learned as Logan.
Thomas Tull is a certified geek through-and-through, but is also the CEO of one of the best movie studios in all of Hollywood. Tull (seen above at Comic-Con previously) runs Legendary Pictures, the production company behind everything from Christopher Nolan's movies to Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim to Zack Snyder's movies to The Hangover series to The Town, Where the Wild Things Are, Watchmen, 300, Trick 'r Treat, and plenty other stellar genre movies. They just finished Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, which I sat down to talk with him about, and they're currently financing and working on Nolan's Interstellar, Jurassic World, Crimson Peak and Warcraft, too. Our interview covers everything from monsters to epic budgets.
This weekend Seth Rogen does just a little bit of growing up in the fantastic comedy Neighbors (read my glowing review right here), directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Thankfully, Rogen had some time to sit down and talk about being the guy that everyone wants to smoke weed with and how that effects his maturing on the big screen at 32 years old. Our chat mostly focuses on comedy on the big screen in general, but we also dive into working with Zac Efron on an improvisation heavy set, the staying power of Christopher Mintz-Plasse after being discovered for Superbad, James Franco staring in all of his movies, and how PG-13 comedy just doesn't work for him and collaborative partner Evan Goldberg.
All he said is, "I want to change the world." One of the year's must-see documentaries is Jodorowsky's Dune, profiling the Chilean filmmaker and his ambitious attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune in the 70s. Jodorowsky amassed one of the most insane casts ever: Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine and Mick Jagger of all people. This outstanding documentary, directed by Frank Pavich of the music doc N.Y.H.C. previously, debuted at last year's Cannes Film Festival where I first caught it and fell in love with it. I finally spoke with Pavich over the phone in March for a fun discussion on this excellent doc.
Now in theaters is the incredibly brutal, extremely awesome Indonesian martial arts sequel The Raid 2, which picks up immediately where The Raid left off, with Rama (played by Iko Uwais) returning to take on more corrupt businessmen and mobsters. The man behind this successful genre series is Gareth Evans, a Welsh filmmaker who has found his home in Indonesia making martial arts movies (yes, we even talk about this). I've been looking forward to chatting with Evans ever since The Raid 1, but was lucky enough to catch up with him for a full-on 20 minute video interview about action movies and The Raid 2 a few weeks ago.
He's a one-of-a-kind filmmaker and artist, known and beloved for his quirks and style, and a genuinely interesting person to talk with. In theaters this weekend is the eighth film from Wes Anderson, known for an impressive oeuvre of work so far, from Rushmore to The Royal Tenenbaums to The Life Aquatic to The Darjeeling Limited to Fantastic Mr. Fox to Moonrise Kingdom. His latest is The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I was lucky enough to catch at the Berlin Film Festival world premiere (my review) a few weeks ago. I met up with Wes in New York recently to chat about the film, his career, Hollywood, and a few other things. It was an odd interview, to say the least, not exactly how I expected it to go, but fascinating none-the-less.
One of our favorite films from Fantastic Fest 2013 was E.L. Katz's Cheap Thrills (Jeremy's review). The film is visceral, hilarious and painfully dark at times, but boy do we love it. In Austin last year we had the chance to sit down with director Evan "E.L." Katz and star Pat Healy along with guests Ethan Embry and David Koechner to chat about what makes Cheap Thrills such a special little flick. We went over some of the themes of the film with Evan, talked through the process of building suspense while maintaining tone, and got into the grit of the relationships. Listen to the full-on 30-minute TGB interview from Fantastic Fest.